Sunday, January 13, 2013

Raw Cake!

Now I remember, as a kid, sometimes being allowed to scrape out and eat the last of the raw cake mixture after the rest of it had disappeared in to the oven. Wonderful! Here's a cake recipe that cuts out that cooking bit.

I like the idea of ‘Raw Food’. That is, eating only food that has not been heated or ‘cooked’ at a temperature higher than 40 ˚C (104 ˚F). I say I like the idea and most of the Raw Foods I’ve tried I have enjoyed; I just don’t want to cut the cooked food out of my diet…. yet.

Anyway, this Chocolate cake is made with no cooking, no eggs, no added fat, no cooking…. And one (perhaps) surprising ingredient!

Much of the basis for this recipe came from Lots of good stuff to be found on that website.

Here in Greece we have a tradition of cutting a cake to welcome the New Year. Called a Vassilopitta, this cake is cut in homes, businesses, clubs and indeed in pretty much anywhere where people get together, on the first time they meet up after the turn of the year. Usually the cake is a simple, though tasty sponge cake with a coin hidden in it. The person who finds the coin in their slice is assured of good fortune for the year. I made this somewhat untraditional version as Christiane’s Meditation group’s Vassilopitta. Still a hid a coin it though!

Raw Chocolate Cake

You will need:
1 1/2 cups Walnuts
1 1/2 cups Pecans, or Hazlenuts or Almonds…. Or  mixture of these.
1 1/2 cups Dates or Figs. If using dried figs you may need a little water
1 1/2s cup Raisins
1 tablespoon Honey
6 tablespoons raw Cocoa Powder
2 teaspoons Vanilla extract

1. In a food processor, process the nuts until they are very well blended, so that they look like a chunky flour.
2. Then, add everything else to the food processor and continue blending. If your food processor is like mine then the whole mix may well be too much for it….. We are talking one big sticky mass here. I empty the nuts into out a bowl, then process the dates, honey, raisins and so on and mix the whole lot together in the bowl afterwards. Don’t be tempted to add very much extra liquid.
3. Keep on blending/mixing until your mixture looks like a big ball of dough. There shouldn't be big chunks of anything. Get your hands into the bowl and knead it all together. This is a messy, though fun business(!).
4. Once you've got a big raw chocolate cake dough ball, the cake is basically done; you just need to figure out the presentation (shape and icing or whatever you want).
5. Just press the dough into the desired shape for whatever you want to make. For example, just take a nice cake plate and press the dough into a cake shape. Try and resist the temptation to lick your fingers until you have finished handling and shaping the cake. I find it works well to get it more or less into the shape you want and then move straight to step 6…..
6. Cover and allow to cool in the fridge overnight. Once cooled, the cake will be much firmer and this is a good time to trim the cake to it’s final shape. It’s good to eat now…. Or you can go for a wonderfully creamy chocolate icing to finish it off….. Kid yourself that it’s healthy! Actually it probably is, compared to many chocolate cakes you may meet.

Raw Chocolate ‘Cream’ Icing

Actually, I think this icing would work very well on all sorts of more traditional cakes too.

You will need:

1 ripe Avocado
1 or 2 tablespoons of Cocoa Powder
3 or 4 tablespoons of Maple Syrup or Honey or Agave syrup
Make the Icing by blending together the maple syrup (or honey or Agave), the cocoa powder, and the flesh from the avocado until it’s uniform in color and texture. Taste it and adjust the sweetness if need be.
Spread over the cake.
Garnish with crushed hazelnuts.
I have adopted the policy of not telling new guests about the Avocado until after they have enjoyed their cake. The revelation nearly always gets a wonderfully surprised reaction.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Christmas Stollen

For our first Christmas at home in several years we decided to throw A small party on Christmas Eve. Amongst other things I baked a German style Stollen Bread for the party which was one of the hits of the nights…. People have been asking me ever since, what my secret is!

No secret. I found the recipe on Here’s the links: or if you prefer it in European measures:
Not being a regular baker of bread, I stuck pretty much to the recipe. It works!

Prasopitta...or Leek Pie

Greece is home to one of the world’s great fast foods: Small Pies…. or in Greek, Pittas. Perhaps the best known are Cheese pies (Tyropitta) and Spinach pies (Spanakopitta). Widely available in convenient ‘hand size’ pieces, they both make a wonderful snack lunch… or a basis for a fuller meal. But you can find all sorts of variations and fillings too. One of my own favourites when I can find it is a Prasopitta, or Leek Pie. Here’s my own take on this particular pie…. with embellishments.

2 Medium size Leeks
1 Clove Garlic
1 large egg
120/150g Graviera Cheese. Actually, any good hard cheese will probably do.
200/220g filo pastry (5/6 sheets)
Olive oil
100/120g bacon
Black Pepper
1/2 tbl spoon of double cream

Clean and chop the Leeks and fry gently to tenderise for about 10/15 minutes in a little Olive Oil. Chop the Garlic and add to the pan after about 5 minutes. Stir from time to time and don’t allow the leeks to burn.

Meanwhile, grate the Cheese into a bowl, add the Egg and stir together. Chop the Bacon, I use 3 or 4 thin slices chopped to about 1cm square. Add to the cheese mixture and give it four or five twists of fresh ground Black Pepper.

Once the leeks have tenderised, add them to the mix and stir everything together. Finally, stir on a couple of generous tablespoons of double cream. Check the seasoning. With the cheese and bacon present, you should not need to add any salt…. Adjust to your taste though.

Build your pie on a well greased baking tray. Lay down one sheet of Filo Pastry, brush it with Olive Oil (melted butter will do just as well, just not so healthy!) and then lay a second sheet of pastry over the first. Repeat for a third sheet. It’s important to keep the sheets of pastry well oiled and not to let them dry out at this stage.

Then spread the pie filling onto the centre of the base and work it into the shape you want. Try to achieve an even thickness of 1 to 1 and a half cm. This will leave a wide flap of layered pastry exposed all around the filling.

Now wrap the filling, just like a parcel. I usually fold in the ends and then wrap the sides over the top. Once the pie is closed I use any remaining sheets of pastry to wrap the pie in the opposite direction, again keeping the pastry well oiled and tucking the flaps of pastry underneath. Be carful when working with the pastry; the wafer thing filo sheets can tear and break quite easily. Don’t worry too much if they won’t lie flat. The folds and creases in the pastry add character and texture!

Cook in a pre-heated oven at 180C for about 1 hour. The finished pie should be a rich golden brown in colour with the top layer of pastry starting to flake away.

Despite the temptation, allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before eating.  This pie should make 4 to 6 servings. It is great hot, warm or, if it lasts that long it’s good to eat cold too.